Movies - Box Office postsSunday March 04, 2018
‘Black Panther’ Passes $500 Million Domestic
Claws: good for fighting, less for counting.
Two weeks ago, “Black Panther” had the fifth-highest opening-weekend gross in history: $202 mil.
Last week, it had the second-highest second-weekend gross in history, $111 mil, second only to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
This weekend? The third-highest third weekend, $65 mil, after “Star Wars” and “Avatar.”
Add it all up and “BP” is now at $501 million domestic gross, which is the 10th-best all time. Unadjusted. Adjust and it's 87th. But that's with a bullet.
This is astonishing on two levels. “Panther” is a February release. That's afterthought territory for Hollywood. That's beta-testing. The previous high for a Feb. film on the unadjusted box-office chart was No. 37, “Passion of the Christ,” Mel Gibson's beta-test on religious movies/culture wars from 2004, which grossed $370 mil. Second? No. 41, “Deadpool,” Marvel's beta-test on R-rated superheroes from 2016, which grossed $363. That's it for the top 100. No other February release has grossed more than $300 mil. Only one other, “The LEGO Movie,” has grossed more than $200 mil. It's long-been thought to be a lame month when no one goes to see films. Don't waste your best on this less-than-prime real estate. That's the first reason this is astonishing.
The second is the mostly African-American cast. Even after Hollywood's love affair with the South was over (“Birth of a Nation,” “Gone with the Wind”), it was reluctant to be too progressive since it didn't want to lose Southern box office. “Black Panther” is in effect saying, “Fuck Southern box office.” Or maybe: “There's a new Southern box office.”
So where will it wind up on the all-time chart? Weekend to weekend, it's dropping slowly: 44%, 41%. (“The Avengers,” by comparison, dropped 50% and 46% its first two weekends.) It does poorer on weekdays, because it's not summer and the kids aren't out of school, but it‘ll obviously get up to No. 7 all-time (currently “The Dark Knight,” $534). Then it’s a big leap to No. 6, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” at $619. But I think it can do it. If I had to bet, I'd go No. 3 all time, passing James Cameron's “Titanic” ($659) but not James Cameron's “Avatar” ($760). We‘ll know more next weekend.
Either way, “Black Panther” is making history. Your old formulas Hollywood? They’re gone with the wind.
Box Office: Black Panther Roars to $192 Million Record-Breaking Opening
This is how the world changes: not with a bang but a ka-ching.
OK, there was a bang in there, too.
In case you didn't hear, three movies opened this weekend:
- “Samson,” a “bargain-bin Biblical epic” whose main critical watchword appears to be “sluggish”—although it is the kind of thing right-wing Christians have demanded from Hollywood for years. It grossed $1.9 million and finished in 10th place.
- “Early Man,” a British stop-action animation from the makers of “Wallace and Grommit.” It grossed $3.1 million and finished in 7th place.
- “Black Panther,” about the titular Wakandan/Marvel superhero, starring Chadwick Boseman (“42,” “Get On Up,” “Marshall”—basically every 20th-century African-American icon), and directed by Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station,” “Creed”). It got great reviews (97% at RT) and grossed $192 million. It finished in 1st place. With a fucking bullet.
You could actually say “Black Panther” finished in 5th place since that's where its $192 mil places it on the all-time opening weekend chart. Only “The Avengers,” “Jurassic World,” and “Star Wars” VII and VIII opened better.
I wish I saw it coming. Not even close. I always thought of Black Panther as a minor character in the Marvel universe. Even among black characters in the Marvel universe, I would‘ve placed him behind Luke Cage and maybe the Falcon. And here he’s blowing everybody away. He's blowing Batman and Superman away. He reigns.
Plus it's February. You know the biggest all-time Feb. opening before this? “Deadpool” at $132 million two years ago. Then “Fifty Shades of Grey” at $85 and “Passion of the Christ” at $84. It's not a big box-office month. February has generally been a dumping ground for shitty romances (“Valentine's Day,” “The Vow”), cut-rate Christian movies (“Son of God,” “Risen”), and second-rate superheroes (“Daredevil,” “Ghost Rider”). Maybe that's what Buena Vista originally thought “Black Panther” was. Or maybe they saw unstaked territory. But I doubt they saw $192.
Here's the records “Black Panther” has already shattered:
- Biggest Feb. opening
- Biggest single-character Marvel opening
- Biggest single-character superhero opening
But that's actually downplaying the achievement. This feels like a game-changer. $192 million is something even Hollywood can't ignore.
Would it be wrong to suggest that some part of this box office feels like a reaction against our cultural times? That if Trump wasn't in the White House, “Black Panther” would‘ve done well but not $192 million well? Unprovable, of course. And just a sense. Raising the question: Has some part of our box office become politicized? We go to the theater to hear/see what we’re not hearing/seeing in the public/political realms. Or what we think we‘re not hearing in the public/political realm. During the Obama years, Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” broke January box-office records; but with Trump fulminating in the Oval Office the same people couldn't be bothered to see Clint Eastwood's “The 15:17 to Paris,” which, after two weekends, stands at $25 mil. The right-wing crazies don't need that fix; they get it every day on Twitter.
I was curious how Breitbart's Big Hollywood was dealing with BP's huge weekend. Doesn't it go against what they always argue? That Hollywood does poorly at the box office because conservative values aren't honored by Hollywood liberals? So how are they justifying this? So I went there. And no, you don't want to know. Their critic, John Nolte, is arguing that “Black Panther” is not a movie about race but about values. Conservative values. Nolte is actually arguing that Black Panther is Trump while the villain is Black Lives Matter. Yes. Yes, he is.
Patricia and I see the movie tomorrow.
Breitbart can spin however it wants, this is a roar. This is such a roar that everyone has to pay attention. It's James Baldwin's line backed by money: “The world is white no longer, and it will never be white again.”
UPDATE: The actuals were better than the estimates, as “BP” grossed $202 million for the three-day weekend (still fifth-best) and $242 million if you include Presidents' Day (when Patricia and I saw it in a packed Cinerama Theater). That's the second-best four-day total ever—after only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Seems an unintended but fitting revenge for “American Sniper” setting box-office records on MLK weekend, of all holidays. Oh, and Nolte's an idiot. The Panther isn't Trump. Maintaining Wakanda's secrecy, and its borders, is the one thing T‘Challa does wrong; it’s the sin he must rectify. And does. Does anyone ever call any of these guys on this shit?
Box Office: The Rock and The Show Keep Going ... and Going ... and Going
The 15:17 to Paris appears more crowded than most showings of “The 15:17 to Paris.”
Three movies each opened in more than 3,000 theaters this weekend and they all more-or-less disappointed.
“50 Shades Freed,” No. 1 at the box office, grossed $38.8 mil, which is $8 million less than what “50 Shades Darker” opened to in Feb. 2017, which was itself $39 million less than the original, “50 Shades of Grey,” opened to in Feb. 2015. Cue Bruce. Supposedly this is the last “50 Shades.” I'd say yay but we haven't seen its replacement.
No. 2 for the weekend was “Peter Rabbit,” whose $25 mil opening was on par with last year's “The Emoji Movie.” It's the 89th-best opening for an animated movie. It's also now raised anger among some parents because it seems to make light of food allergies. At the least, it gives them to the movie's villain, and the movie's heroes exploit it.
And coming in third was Clint Eastwood's “The 15:17 to Paris,” about the three U.S. military dudes who stopped a terrorist act on a train headed to, yes, Paris, in 2015. They star as themselves. It grossed $12 mil. Slightly off the $35 mil Eastwood's previous American-hero movie, “Sully,” opened to in Sept. 2016, but then that one starred Tom Hanks, who does this kind of thing professionally. And that‘s way less than the $89 mil Eastwood’s previous American-hero movie, “American Sniper,” grossed in its first wide-release opening weekend in January 2015. Of course, back then Obama was in the White House, so Trump folks had to go to the movies to get their wish-fulfillment fantasy. Now they just go to Twitter.
Each of these movies didn't just disappoint at the box office, by the way. Here are their Rotten Tomatoes scores:
- “50 Shades”: 11%
- “Peter Rabbit”: 58%
- “15:17 to Paris”: 21%
These disappointments, Hollywood, might be related.
Meanwhile, two other films, both released eight weekends ago in the dark days before Christmas, keep on keeping on.
The box office's No. 4 movie was “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” which grossed another $9.8 mil, for a $365 domestic total and $881 worldwide. It's the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2017 both domestically and worldwide, and has cemented the Rock as one of the world's biggest stars. If not the biggest.
And at No. 5? Believe it or not, “The Greatest Showman,” starring Hugh Jackman, which grossed another $6.4 million for $146 domestic and $314 worldwide. This is a startling story of perseverance. It opened the weekend before Christmas in fourth place, grossing just $8.8 million, and seemed dead in the water. Each weekend since, it's never grossed more than $16 mil nor less than $6. It just doesn't drop. Here are its rankings weekend by weekend: 4th, 4th, 4th, 4th, 5th, 4th, 4th, 5th. Movies that have ranked ahead of it include “Pitch Perfect 3,” “Insidious: The Last Key,” “The Commuter,” “12 Strong,” “Den of Thieves” and “Maze Runner: The Death Cure.” They all fall away. It doesn't. The show goes on.
'Star Wars' Threepeats as No Film Franchise Has
Over the weekend, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” grossed another $52 million to become the biggest domestic box office hit of the year. Its $531 million (and counting) supplants the $504 million “Beauty and the Beast” earned this spring.
More, it's now three years in a row that our No. 1 movie has been a “Star Wars” movie. That's never happened. I mean not nearly. Yes, every “Star Wars” but one (Ep. II) was the No. 1 movie of its year, but they used to space them out. One every three years. Now they come at us like laser blasts. Pew pew pew!
Several years ago, because of an idiot Breitbart column, I actually researched this question: Has the same franchise movie ever been the year's biggest movie two years in a row? Answer? Yes, once, in 1944 and '45, when “Going My Way” was followed by “The Bells of St. Mary's.” Otherwise, no, it's never been done. Now “Star Wars” has done it three years in a row. As the man sang: Star War, nothing but Star Wars.
Even so, even with this threepeat, the big box-office story this weekend may have been the resurgence of “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” “Last Jedi” won the weekend, falling only 23% over its previous, pre-Christmas weekend frame. But “Jumanji” killed it, grossing 38% more than the previous weekend, and finishing a tight second with $50 mil. It's now grossed $185 million for the year, which is 13th and counting. It'll most certainly pass The Rock's other big b.o. hit this year, “The Fate of the Furious,” which performed below expectations.
The only new wide-release movie this weekend, “All the Money in the World,” didn't make much of it: just $5.6 million in 2,000+ theaters, to finish in 7th place. Ridley Scott worked overtime to excise Kevin Spacey from the picture, but to not much benefit, box office-wise.
Box Office: A 'Star Wars' First; 'Last Jedi' Stumbles
Two years ago, the long-awaited seventh episode of the “Star Wars” saga, “The Force Awakens,” debuted during the weekend of Dec. 18-20, grossed $247 mil, and then, in its second weekend, Dec. 25-27, it fell off by only 39.8% to gross another $149.2. How good was that second weekend? At the time, better than all but 11 opening weekends in movie history.
This year, the eighth episode of the “Star Wars” saga, “The Last Jedi,” debuted the weekend of Dec. 15-17 and grossed $220 million—a drop-off, sure, but still the second-best opening ever. This weekend? Its second? It plummeted to $68 mil, a 68.9% drop, which is akin to the second-weekend drops of such crapfests as “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (69%) and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (69.1%).
Not a very “Star Wars” thing to do. The question is why.
- Saturation? We had “Force Awakens” two years ago and “Rogue One” last year and now “Star Wars” is a regular holiday deal, rather than the thing you've been waiting decades to see.
- Backlash? The reviews were good (RT: 92%) but some of the aggragated audience reactions have not been (RT: 52%). It's still up in the air whether this is legit or some kind of sabotage. Some fanboys, apparently, aren't happy that the female characters are front-and-center in this one.
- Or is it just the dates?
Look at the dates for the second weekend of “Force Awakens”: Christmas day and the two days after. Prime movie-watching days. “Last Jedi”? The three days before Christmas day, when most of us are still running around and doing the dirty work of the holiday. That three-day shift could've made a huge difference. I'm not saying “Jedi” would've come near “Force”; I just don't think it would've fallen off in “BvS” numbers. We'll see how it does the rest of the week. I assume it'll pick up. Either way, it's at $365 million ($745 worldwide), and will become the biggest box-office hit of the year—as is true for every major “Star Wars” release save “Episode II: Attack of the Clones” back in 2002.
Five other movies opened this weekend in 2500+ theaters, and finished 2, 3, 4, 7 and 9. The Rock's latest, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” grossed $34, “Pitch Perfect 3” $20 (a third of “PP2”'s opening), and “The Greatest Showman” far back at $8.2. “Downsizing” lived up to its name, making only $4.6, but that was still better than “Father Figures” (“Mamma Mia” + gender switch - ABBA), which scrounged up only $3.2, an average of a paltry $1.1k per theater.
The best per-theater average belonged to the movie I wanted to see, but couldn't, because Fox in its infinite wisdom opened “The Post” in only nine theaters. Nine! Apparently it goes wide in January. Instead, P and I saw “Star Wars” on Thursday and “Jumanji” on Saturday. Mixed positives for both.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Treat yourself to “The Big Sick,” currently streaming on Amazon Prime.